The evolution of Homo sapiens has had a marked effect on our geographical environment—much as it usually does with the evolution of any species. This is especially notable with humans, considering how we have evolved to the point where we not only impress upon our environment to assimilate for survival, but we also mold it to the whims of our convenience. During the dawn of the human species, we left footsteps as we gathered roots and berries. During the more recent era, we have eliminated crows due to their excessiveness, bred pandas due to their scarcity, and yet we have done little to nothing about the excessiveness of the human population. As a species, we have claimed unspoken responsibility and procured control over the existence of other species for our own advancement. Now, we would like to synthesize it. Another such case can be found in the selection, “Last Child in the Woods,” where Richard Louv presents the reader with the possibility of using genetic technology to advertise in nature.
Use of rhetorical strategies such as logos, ethos, and pathos imply his opposition towards this idea. In the first third of the essay, Louv uses logos to present the current situation to the reader, the possibility “for moving ads out of the virtual world and into the real one…through which [we] can choose the colors that appear on butterfly wings,” (Louv, line 3-8). Simple word choice such as “move” and “choose” denote usage of a casual tone, demonstrating an almost aggressive detachment from our “virtual world” and nature’s “real” one—as if the choice were as inapt and insipid as deciding which breakfast cereal to have in the morning. Subsequently, logos is employed to elaborate the “cultural importance” that these forced genetic mutations would leave on society—as if the capitalist ideals these experiments contributed to were all that cultural in the first place. Through these blatant displays of negligence, the author convinces the reader to believe in the legitimacy of a fallacy.
The reader believes that a catabolism is an anabolism, benefitting our society, because the author is so casual in his tone that nobody realizes what a major environmental distortion these experiments imply. At the end of this section, Louv uses logos to reiterate that “the logical extension of synthetic nature is the irrelevance of true nature,” (Louv, line 17-18), in which the reader senses a divergence in tone evolving. In the second portion of the excerpt, the author supports his argument to the audience through the use of ethos. Louv reinforces his personal credibility through examples of personal experience. He illustrates a situation in which his friend “was shopping a new luxury car to celebrate her half-century of survival in the material world,” (Louv, line 23-25), “but she knew where to draw the line,” (Louv, line 29), when asked if she wanted to have “multimedia entertainment products” installed. In this way, Louv displays, in an unsuspecting, down to earth manner, like a child at a science fair, his values and beliefs that human beings should not be so attached to material things in the synthetic world they create.
Rather, they should reconnect with and appreciate the natural world in which they, themselves, were created in. Finally, Louv supports his argument with pathos, to evoke and stir emotion in the heart of the reader. He aggressively pushes an ironic tone, suggesting the idea that people might “someday tell our grandchildren stories about…[how] we actually looked out the car window [and] in our useful boredom we used our fingers to draw pictures on fogged glass as we watched telephone poles tick by,” (Louv, line 57-64). He employs a stunning use of imagery to present the raw and textured beauty that is pure, unadulterated nature, in which “We were fascinated with road kill…[and] we stared with a kind of reverence at the horizon,” (Louv, 65-68). This is the most powerful use of pathos from the excerpt. It is this final possibility of destination beyond the immaterial surface of society that really hits home with the reader, forcing them feel a sense of amour-propre in their own destinies, as well.
In summary of these given points, Louv uses logos, ethos, and pathos to assert his opposition towards the use of genetic technology in advertising. He stresses the importance of the ethical considerations in valuing our environment. Through stark contrasts in tone and word choice, he reinforces the idea that human kind’s destiny is to preserve nature, rather than corrupt it with synthetic elements. Louv, and quite possibly many others, feel that it is not the dislodgment of a shifting social pyramid’s ennui, nor the resplendency of convenience that is brought to many by technology, which emancipates the soul of humanity. Rather, it is the attitude and belief in the immaterial that achieves peace and salvation within our souls and surroundings.